Robert Burns ‘To A Louse’

by richardhutton

TO A LOUSE

(On seeing one on a lady’s bonnet at church)

Ha! Whare ye gaun, ye crowlin ferlie?
Your impudence protects you sairly,
I canna say but ye trunt rarely
Owre gauze and lace,
Tho’ faith! I fear ye dine but sparely
On sic a place.

Ye ugly, creepin, blastit wonner,
Detested, shunn’d by saunt an’ sinner,
How daur ye set your fit upon her –
Sae fine a lady!
Gae somewhere else and seek your dinner
On some poor body.

Swith! In some beggar’s hauffet squattle:
There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle,
Wi’ther kindred, jumping cattle,
In shoals and nations;
Whare horn nor bane ne’er daur unsettle
Your thick plantations.

Now haud you there! Ye’re out o’ sight,
Below the fatt’rils, snug an’ tight;
Na, faith ye yet! Ye’ll no be right,
Till ye’ve got on it –
The vera tapmost, tow’ring height
O’ Miss’s bonnet.

My sooth! Right bauld ye set your nose out,
As plump an’ grey as onie grozet:
O for some rank, mercurial rozet,
Or fell, red smeddum,
I’d gie ye sic a hearty dose o’t,
Wad dress your droddum!

I wad na been surprise’d to spy
You on an auld wife’s flainen toy;
Or aiblins some bit duddie boy,
On’s wyliecoat;
But Miss’s fine Lunardi! Fye!
How daur ye do’t!

O Jenny, dinna toss your head,
An’ set your beauties a’ abread!
Ye little ken what curséd speed
The blastie’s makin!
Thae winks an’ finger-ends, I dread,
Are notice takin!

O wad some Power the giftee gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion:
What airs in dress an’ gait wad lea’e us,
An’ ev’n devotion!

By Robert Burns

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